*Harris, Microsoft Settle

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Harris Interactive and Microsoft Corp. reached an agreement late last week that will remove another big name from the Internet polling firm's lawsuit against Mail Abuse Prevention System LLC and several Internet service providers.

On Sept. 7, almost one month to the day after it dropped its claims against America Online, Harris reached an out-of-court settlement with Microsoft that will enable the Rochester, NY, pollster to send e-mail to users of MSN Hotmail.

In a prepared statement, Microsoft said it would now ensure that Harris' e-mails would reach their intended Hotmail audience. The company also stressed that it held no liability to Harris and that no money was exchanged as part of the settlement.

What was left unclear, however, was whether Hotmail will continue to use MAPS spam filtering services. Microsoft officials said that Hotmail did use MAPS and attributed that service to Harris' inability to reach Hotmail users. The Sept. 7th statement did not say if it would continue to work with MAPS.

Microsoft by presstime had not returned a call for comment.

MAPS is an anti-spam watchdog that operates the Realtime Blackhole List, a compilation of alleged spammers that is used by some 20,000 subscribers, who consist of ISPs, network e-mail administrators and the like. Though it carries no official authority, marketers greatly fear an RBL listing because subscribers almost automatically choose to blacklist any firm that appears on it.

Harris' lawsuit now seeks compensatory damages from Qwest, Juno Online Services, Bell South and a handful of other ISP defendants. It is claiming that Harris' listing on the RBL is unfair and that the ISPs' use of the blacklist is damaging its ability to conduct business.

While Harris has reached successful out-of-court settlements with AOL and Microsoft, it did lose an initial courtroom battle. On August 8th, in a U.S. District Court in Rochester, N.Y., the presiding judge denied Harris' request for a temporary restraining order against a MAPS RBL lisiting.

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